City receives national award for revitalization

Organizations and individuals appreciate some level of acknowledgement for achieving a laudable goal.
The WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame is an example of such recognition. Successful nominees not only receive a unique bronze medallion, but have a commissioned sculpture placed prominently on display in Assiniboine Park.
Of course, many industry associations or companies have their own awards programs to demonstrate levels of achievement and service to an organization and/or community, which can certainly be motivation to strive for a milestone or benchmark. But more often than not, the recognition goes beyond public and peer approval. There are other reasons for wanting to do something that truly makes a difference.
One award that likely fits the latter category of doing something on a grander  community-wide scale is the national award the city of Winnipeg received last month at a conference in Toronto. 
In the news release printed below, a quote from Mayor Katz shows many Winnipeggers are getting involved in local urban renewal. The results of such renewal efforts provides the impetus to create other projects — success begets success.
An example of renewal not mentioned in the news release is infill housing. The three levels of government recently announced funding of $2.3 million to support the construction of 33 new infill houses in Winnipeg’s inner city. The housing partnership goes beyond the three levels of government and the Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative (WHHI), a government-created single-window agency that delivers funding for housing projects. Also involved in the recent announcement are the city’s arms-length Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation, the Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) Inc. and the Spence Neighbourhood Asssociation. 
The focus of their renewal efforts include the neighbourhoods of William Whyte, Centennial, North Point Douglas, Spence, Daniel McIntyre and St. Matthews. The homes are sold to low- to moderate-income buyers who are eligible for down-payment assistance. 
The infill homes being built are 1,100-square-foot homes, with a handicap-accessible main floor and R-2000 certification for energy efficiency. The homes fall under the New Home Warranty Program. 
The two new infill home designs were created by the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WHRC) with improvements and recommendations welcomed from several community housing partners. It was a collaborative effort which that has earned positive feedback from the home buyers.
The WHRC has been undertaking other housing renewal projects. The long-serving non-profit housing corporation won a 2007 CMHC award for best practices in affordable housing by completely rebuilding 28 new units at 1 Flora Place. It replaced dilapidated housing units originally built for soldiers returning from the Second World War.
It is worth noting that Deputy Mayor Justin Swandel, who accepted the national award for the City of Winnipeg’s commitment to revitalization, has served on the WHRC board of directors and was clearly supportive of the corporation taking a more active role in the city’s renewal efforts. 
With the corporation proposing to build a 10-unit condo complex on two lots in the Centennial neighbourhood, expect more to happen in 2011 that will keep Winnipeg well positioned to again grab national attention.
Winnipeg accepts national award for commitment to revitalization
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz announced that the city recently was awarded top honours at the Canadian Brownfields Conference in Toronto.
Winnipeg earned first place among 12 Canadian cities and regions judged as Places to Invest, in the first annual study of potential for economic redevelopment and revitalization in Canadian cities. 
The report, issued jointly by ReNew Canada magazine and REVITALIZ, LLC, determined that Winnipeg, along with Norfolk County (Ontario) and the Waterloo Region (Ontario) displayed the greatest commitment to redevelopment and renewal, based on 13 criteria.
“This award represents a tremendous accomplishment by council, the public service, partners in the private sector, arms-length revitalization agencies and the citizens of Winnipeg,” said Katz. 
“As a community, we have defined our vision, and are working together to ensure Winnipeg is proactive and collaborative with our investment and development partners. We are also excited at the new opportunities this award will undoubtedly bring to our city.”
Whether it is the Manitoba Hydro headquarters and renewable energy, added the mayor, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and existing community assets, the redevelopment of Western Canada’s oldest skyscraper and our existing heritage assets, or the redevelopment of Central Park and our existing public amenities, Winnipeg has embraced the complex and often challenging task of using the best of what we already have, and making it better.
“A lot of work has been done in recent years to support innovative revitalization and development projects,” said Winnipeg Planning, Property and Development director Deepak Joshi. “As an example, we are about to engage in one of the largest infill  transit-oriented neighbourhood development projects (Fort Rouge Yards) we have ever undertaken, integrating environmentally-friendly features along with rapid transit.”
The mayor said much of this innovative approach involves the right tools, including plans and policies that support revitalization. The draft OurWinnipeg plan is one such tool. It’s 25-year blueprint for planning all the components needed for a community that is sustainable environmentally, economically, and socially.
The Best Place to Invest award was accepted by Winnipeg Deputy Mayor Justin Swandel. The first national Places to Invest report appeared in ReNew Canada magazine’s November 2010 issue.